It’s our first Christmas in a new home.
Unlike the last two years, we decided not to buy a real tree. I just wasn’t up for cleaning the fallen pine needles this year. So we bought a big, full, beautiful fake tree—and despite feeling like I ought to like real ones more, I just can’t help it … I love my big, full, beautiful, fake tree so much more than I did the small, sometimes sparse, pretty, real ones that we’ve had the last two years. It’s big enough to hold all our ornaments AND have room for more! It makes me very happy, especially knowing that we don’t have to hope for an equally good one next year; it’s already ours.
This is the first time in our married lives—my first time since I lived with my parents—that we’ve had an actual fireplace and a real mantel. For the last two years, we hung our stockings from shelves we’d put up in our dining room. Before that, they were draped from the top of the china cabinet. I like the fireplace much more.
My husband even found a use for the random strand of multicolored garland that I’m not sure we’ve ever used for anything …
And he found a similar use for a strand of green garland.
Our Nativity set from Cambodia first was guarded by Leonidas …
then witnessed by various incarnations of Dr. Who and his enemies, as well as a little plastic sheep masquerading as part of the original set.
We spent a couple of hours one afternoon making paper snowflakes, which we hung on twine in our windows and across the pass through between the kitchen and dining room.
Jeff made a special one in honor of his abiding love for Star Wars.
We spent more than a couple of hours one afternoon making our first ever gingerbread house. We bought a kit for the gingerbread pieces, but I made the royal icing myself, and Jeff bought Twizzlers, M&Ms, and gummies for decoration.
We’ve watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We were reminded of the real meaning of Christmas in the Veggie Tales show The Toy That Saved Christmas.
We’ve read a book about the real Saint Nicholas, and another about Christmas traditions around the world. We read The Polar Express, Lucy’s Christmas, and a customized version of The Night Before Christmas.
We’ve added magnetic pieces to our Nativity-themed Advent calendar and discussed the birth of Jesus.
Lexa made Christmas cards for our neighbors, which will be delivered today with the cookies we made and the traditional good luck charms Jeff bought.
Our plans for tomorrow include gifts in the morning and a potluck Christmas dinner with my husband’s coworkers in the afternoon and evening. I’m prepared with ham, crescent rolls (God bless the Naval Exchange!), baked macaroni and cheese, and a couple of different pies—all ready to just go in the oven tomorrow, no further work required. And of course, we can’t forget the gluhwein, which just needs to be heated in the slow cooker.
On the one hand, I have felt so busy, and so tired, and so stressed, that it doesn’t much feel like Christmas.
On the other hand, this feels more like Christmas than any of the last few years.
The rooms in which I spend most of my time look like Christmas, full of simple, beautiful decorations.
Rather than deciding that Christmas activities are too much effort this year, or deciding to do them but not committing enough to tell anyone, I took the simple step of planning Christmas activities for each day (sometimes as simple as a book to read or movie to watch) and putting a slip of paper in the Advent calendar for Alexa to find. No matter how tired or unmotivated I am, I know I can’t back out of the activity when she expects one each day. You better believe I’ll be prepared for it rather than face her disappointment—no “I’m sorry, sweetie, but we don’t have the materials to do that today” this year.
Christmas didn’t sneak up on me this year, as it usually does.
I think this is what Christmas feels like as a grown-up. There is no more just having the magic happen—that’s what Christmas feels like for kids. The adults are the ones who make the magic happen. It’s still magical, but it’s magic with an effort. That may be the real reason it hasn’t felt like Christmas so much the last few years … I kept expecting it to just happen, without the work, the way it did when I was a child. That isn’t the way it is anymore. It’s my turn to make the magic happen for my daughter.
In the process, I made the magic happen for myself.
May you and yours have a wonderful, magical, Merry Christmas.